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Resource update: Unlocking the NMC Code

A new student resource, Unlocking the Code, aims to help nursing students get to grips with the NMC code of conduct.
Unlocking_the-code.jpg

A new student resource, Unlocking the Code, aims to help nursing students get to grips with the NMC code of conduct.

Essential facts

Instilling professional behaviour to ensure that public expectations are met by nursing students is the subject of an innovative new resource from two universities.

The student-led online resource Unlocking the Code, developed by students and teachers at the University of Nottingham and Birmingham City University, is based on the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) code of conduct.

The aim of the resource is to trigger awareness of potentially harmful behaviours and actions, their implications for professional integrity and the impact on the general public.

Broken down into small chunks of learning, the tool introduces and prompts consideration on the four principles of the code, which are to

A new student resource, Unlocking the Code, aims to help nursing students get to grips with the NMC code of conduct.


The online resource, Unlocking the Code, was developed by students.

Essential facts 

Instilling professional behaviour to ensure that public expectations are met by nursing students is the subject of an innovative new resource from two universities.

The student-led online resource Unlocking the Code, developed by students and teachers at the University of Nottingham and Birmingham City University, is based on the Nursing and Midwifery Council's (NMC) code of conduct.

The aim of the resource is to trigger awareness of potentially harmful behaviours and actions, their implications for professional integrity and the impact on the general public. 

Broken down into small chunks of learning, the tool introduces and prompts consideration on the four principles of the code, which are to prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety and promote professionalism and trust. 

The current code, published in 2015, puts patients and their safety at the heart of care and must be upheld by all nurses and midwives.

The tool uses a filmed scenario to prompt students to reflect on their behaviour while studying and during their private lives.

In the film, students are shown waiting for a bus after a night out, displaying anti-social behaviour, serious breaches of patient confidentiality and failing to recognise the needs of other bus users. They occupy seats clearly identified for disabled and vulnerable passengers, talk loudly and littering the bus. One student blocks the aisle with her feet, potentially causing a danger to other users. They fail to recognise the impact of their behaviour on the general public's perception of nursing.

A user with health problems then explains how the inconsiderate actions affected her, impacted her quality of life and gave her a negative view of the profession. A final film shows the scenario rerun with students who are familiar with the code, the improvements in their behaviour and consideration for other bus users.

Students are encouraged to watch the films, identify the failings they see, and consider what action should have been taken that adheres to the code. It is intended to help students reflect on the meaning of the code and how it should shape their actions.

Implications for nurses

All nursing students should be familiar with the code of professional practice. Act with professionalism and integrity at all times. Failure by a nurse or midwife to comply with the code may bring their fitness to practise into question.

Think about how this can be applied to everyday situations and about how your actions, no matter how small, can have a potential impact both for good and bad on those around you. Thoughtful actions by all students and nurses send a powerful message to the general public about professional duty of care.

Remember that the code states that nurses should act in the best interests of people at all times, and the importance of acting immediately to rectify a situation, which has the potential for harm. Safeguarding is a crucial component within professional standards, irrespective of the location and circumstances.

Expert comment

Fern Todhunter, assistant professor of nursing at the Univeristy of Nottingham and project lead:

'Nursing students and staff worked together to develop this re-usable learning object that could help other students, nurses and potential students consider issues raised by the NMC's code.

'It weaves small pieces of learning through media, written and pictorial content to provide guidance about the importance of students and practitioners being accountable and responsible.

'In Unlocking the Code, the user is invited to methodically work through each section of the activity and then reflect on the behaviours displayed. The aim is to show the balance between undergraduate life and public expectations of professional conduct at all times. 

'The powerful messages in the tool show how impressions are formed very quickly about good and bad behaviours.'


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